Without making assumptions about your character, let’s assume you—the reader—are a decently good person. Nobody’s perfect, but hey, for the sake of this blog, we’ll presume you’re the kind of person who acts with good intentions. Yet, even the best of our intentions can be loaded down with anticipated outcomes:
- An amends you make will be received well by someone.
- We will be able to attend the birthday party without leaving awkwardly after being triggered.
- Our old friends will understand the new boundaries of our sobriety and respect them.
- A gesture of concern over another’s substance use is seen not as hypocrisy, but as helpfulness.
- After completing [BLANK] years of sobriety, we’ll never have to worry about a relapse.
These are all wonderful outcomes—if only they could be guaranteed. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive for an ideal outcome; without that, not much could get done in the world. However, attaching your happiness to a positive response and having expectations of anything other than what you are envisioning is a recipe for disaster and disappointment.
The process of letting go (especially of control) is key to not only your recovery, but of every day human life. This is neither the first nor the last time you’ll have heard this message. Your grandpa might have said “Man plans, and God laughs.” Your meditation teacher might consult with you about what you feel is stalled progress and respond with the Buddha’s words, that “Expectations make us suffer.” Hell, even John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”
Here’s what we’re getting at: so many people over the centuries of the world have seen how life unfolds without our permission and realized “I can’t control this.” However the message was delivered, the key takeaway is that the only thing you can control amidst an uncontrollable universe is your own actions. For addicts and those in recovery, getting past the need to control is a major roadblock.
“The issue of control is at the heart of addiction and recovery. For example, non-alcoholics can have a drink or two and stop without difficulty, said [manager of Spiritual Guidance at Hazelden John] MacDougall. Alcoholics, however, experience a radical loss of control when they have alcohol. ‘They drink well,’ he said. ‘What they don’t do well is quit.’”
This doesn’t need to be your story, but it is a good reminder to us all that less attachment to results benefits everyone. From our sober selves to our loved ones to our colleagues and friends, the less we demand to expect, the more we resolve to let things unfold just as they should.
Find release and addiction recovery at Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California. We are a premier men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138